March 27, 2010
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding is no longer in the running to head up the TSA. “President Barack Obama’s second nominee for transportation security chief withdrew from consideration Friday because of questions over his background as a defense contractor,” reports the Associated Press.
|Selecting Harding to run the TSA was an obvious signal the government plans to further militarize airport security operations.|
Harding served as the Defense Department’s top human intelligence officer, managing a $1 billion intelligence collection program.
Earlier in the week, Harding told Congress he would like to see U.S. airport security more closely resemble security at Israeli airports. He also told senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas intelligence operations need to be expanded to trains and buses. Obama’s selection of Harding to run the TSA was an obvious signal the government plans to further militarize airport security operations.
“I feel that the distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this administration nor for the Department of Homeland Security,” Harding said in a statement released by the White House.
“Harding had extensive intelligence experience that Obama hoped to tap in shoring up airport screening and other anti-terrorism transportation fronts,” notes the AP. “He retired from the Army in 2001, ending a three-decade career during which he served as the Defense Department’s top human intelligence officer, managing a $1 billion intelligence collection program.”
The former Pentagon spook removed himself from consideration after it was discovered his company, Harding Security Associates, had over charged the Defense Intelligence Agency. Harding’s company assisted “interrogations” in Iraq. The firm was obliged to refund $1.8 million to the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2008.
An earlier pick to run the TSA, Erroll Southers, withdrew his nomination after it was discovered he had run background checks on his then-estranged wife’s boyfriend two decades ago. Southers, a top official with Los Angeles police, admitted giving “inconsistent answers” to Congress on the matter.
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